Loudoun County Atlasers,
February presents a great time to re-familiarize yourself with the atlas evidence codes and set goals for the upcoming breeding season. What species do you still need to find from your target list? What species do you want to upgrade to a probable or confirmed breeding status? Do you have the time and interest to survey another block with little or no coverage?
1. Spectacular views of Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers on a Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy-sponsored raptor trip in the Waterford 2 block. Short-eared Owls also heard in the Round Hill 4 block.
2. Gadwall, American Black Duck, Barred Owl (pair), Loggerhead Shrike, Common Raven, American Pipit, and Rusty Blackbird reported for the Leesburg 5 block.
3. In addition to the Clay-colored Sparrow reported last month, highlights from the Sugarloaf Mountain CBC include Barred Owl, Common Raven, Winter Wren, American Tree Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark (Poolesville 1 and Waterford 2 blocks).
1. Barred and Great Horned Owls are now within safe dates and the Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Wren will enter into safe dates at the end of the month. Spring is on the way!
2. All paper field cards and Special Survey forms from the previous year should be mailed to me by April 1.
Species of the month – Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
• Depends on conifer seeds so much that this species even feeds them to their young. The Red Crossbill can breed anytime it finds a sufficiently large cone crop, even in the depths of winter. As a result, molts and plumages vary more than those of other North American Passerines.
• Odd bill shape helps get into tightly closed cones. A bird’s biting muscles are stronger than the muscles used to open the bill, so this species places the tips of its slightly open bill under a cone scale and bites down. The crossed tips of the bill push the scale up, exposing the seed inside.
• Shows a great deal of variation in bill shape and voice and may in fact be composed of several different species. Information taken from: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All about birds. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red_Crossbill/lifehistory/ac
The Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 17-20. This count, sponsored by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada, helps create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Check out their website for details and to get involved: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Please enter your sightings for the atlas (if you live in Loudoun) or send me a copy of your data. A great project to do with children or grandchildren!
73 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 3,495 hours in the field documenting 38,715 sightings. You have recorded 237 species, with 100 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 47 blocks and 12 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported). Keep up the good work!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator